||Fox Run Architect:
Originally from Indiana, Gary Kern
is a throwback to the days of his idols in architecture, Tillinghast,
Mackenzie and Ross. Operating as a one-man operation out of his
home, he is comfortable with his sales pitch. "I never beat the
bushes for business. I always let the business just come in,"
he says. It has been coming in since he stumbled into the design
business back in Indiana in the late 60's.
By the early 1980's, Kern moved his business
to St. Louis. His first major commission was to turn a quirky nine
hole public layout into a 18-hole private club. It was through this
first St. Louis project that the golf community discovered Kern's
philosophy of 'tough from the tips but friendly from the front.'
"I like to do golf coursed that pose a back tee problem for
good players," he explains. "I think they need that in
order to be perceived by the public as a top golf course. They also
need that to be a potential venue for a top tournament."
"At the same time, I try to design the regular tees and forward
tees at such a location and relationship to the hazards and the
angles of the shots so that these folks can make it around without
an undo amount of difficulty. These people are the ones the game is
dependent upon rather than the pros and the scratch players."
"To me the important thing is that golf should be fun. I want
players to walk off my golf course and say, 'I can't wait to get
back here to play again.' That means it was enjoyable. Golf should
always be a challenge but it should be an achievable challenge for
the player and something that he is able to do. If you can do that
mix it in with some good challenge and some aesthetic beauty, that's
what it's all about.
Above all else, though, it is nature that
remains at the heart of a Kern design. Enormous sums of money can be
expended moving even larger quantities of soil to give new courses a
"natural look." Kern believes his talent may be the
ability to achieve that same result with a different approach.
"My strength is my imagination and ability o route a golf
course integrating it into the land. I like for my courses to have a
very beautiful look to them but be very playable. We're all
different. I just try to go to that natural look with a lot of